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Families of Columbine victims sue school district over memorial tiles

The Associated Press


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DENVER — Friends and relatives of victims in the Columbine High School massacre have sued the school district for refusing to display hallway tiles they made with religious symbols.

The Rutherford Institute, a conservative legal group, on Oct. 4 filed a federal lawsuit against the Jefferson County School District on behalf of several people who want a court order forcing the school to display the tiles.

"The premise is that this is a violation of our clients' First Amendment free-speech rights," said Jim Rouse, an attorney with the Virginia-based institute which also represented Paula Jones in her sexual-harassment case against President Clinton.

School district spokeswoman Marilyn Saltzman declined to comment, saying officials had not yet seen the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs were among those who were invited to paint commemorative 4-by-4-inch tiles that later were placed above lockers at the school before it reopened this fall.

The lawsuit claims school officials initially said the tiles could not depict religious symbols, then changed their minds and allowed them, only to change their minds again and remove the tiles with religious material.

The plaintiffs are Diedra and Donald Fleming, whose daughter, Kelly, was killed; Lisa Maurer, a friend of slain student Daniel Rohrbaugh; and Rohrbaugh's father, mother, stepfather and stepsister.